Protecting your retirement

Protecting your retirement

October 2, 2019
retired couple sitting on a porchImagine you get a phone call one day from someone who wants to help you grow your retirement assets. This person says he is an independent financial advisor associated with ERS.
 
Red flag! ERS is not associated with independent financial advisors!
Because you participate in ERS’ retirement and insurance programs, financial advisors, investment professionals and even criminals may view you as a prime target. If you’re looking for professional investment or financial advice, do your research—especially if you’re contacted directly by advisors. And remember: ERS is not associated with independent financial advisors.

If someone contacts you claiming to represent ERS or one of its third-party administrators (like Empower Retirement, the TPA for the Texa$averSM 401(k) / 457 Program), get in touch with your benefits coordinator or human resources office and let them know. To confirm that someone really does represent our TPA, contact the TPA and verify the information you have been given. You can find TPA contact information by going online:
  1. Go to www.ers.texas.gov.
  2. Click on the "Contact ERS" link, located above the Search field.
  3. Click on the brown "Additional Resources" button.
  4. Click on the "Directory" link for a list of all the TPAs.
If you are contacted directly by someone claiming to be an ERS representative and you are concerned, contact the ERS main Customer Service number, toll-free at (877) 275-4377 (TTY: 711) or (800) 735-2989, Monday–Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. CT. Please know you may have to wait on hold if there is high call volume.

Tips for making informed financial decisions

If you are thinking about getting professional investment or financial counsel, there are important things to keep in mind.
  • ERS staff members have specialized knowledge about your State of Texas Retirement plan. Our retirement specialists can provide accurate information about your:
    • retirement eligibility,
    • projected annuity payments based on when you plan to retire and
    • options for your retirement funds when you leave state employment.
    • You can get a retirement estimate and other basic information by logging into your ERS OnLine account at www.ers.texas.gov.
  • If you participate in the Texa$aver 401(k) / 457 Program, you have access to the Texa$aver Advisor Service, provided by Advised Assets Group, LLC, a federally registered investment adviser. Through three types of guidance—including two that are free to members—you can create personalized retirement strategies.
    • Please note: there is no guarantee that participation in the Texa$aver Advisor Service will result in a profit or that your account will outperform a self-managed portfolio.​
    • Remember that you can schedule an appointment with your Texa$aver representative to review your retirement strategies. 
If you choose to use other financial professionals, you should educate yourself about their qualifications and potential conflicts of interest. Guidelines for choosing a financial professional can be found at: https://www.ssb.texas.gov/sites/default/files/2019_CORE4_Choosing_A_Financial_Professional.pdf
  • Ask a trusted family member or friend to review the information you get from a professional to help decide if the business seems legitimate―or if the offer is too good to be true.
  • Use the online FINRA BrokerCheck, a trusted tool that shows you employment history, certifications, licenses, and any violations for brokers and investment advisors.
  • If you have questions about a specific professional, call or write the Texas State Securities Board (SSB). The SSB makes sure that people selling financial products and offering financial advice are licensed to do so, and can take action against those who ignore or violate the rules.
  • Seniors with concerns about potential fraud or investment-related questions may call FINRA’s Securities Helpline for Seniors at (844) 574-3577 Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.- 4 p.m.
  • Review the advisor’s fee arrangements to learn if he or she is paid a commission for certain investments, or if he or she charges fees for advice only. An advisor who makes such a commission―instead of simply charging a fee for advice only―may have a bias in steering you toward the investment.
The SSB website has information in English and Spanish about choosing a financial professional, making investments and avoiding scams and unsuitable investments. Order a free copy of the SSB’s 2019 Texas Investor Guide in English or in Spanish to keep and share this information.